Parliamentary Secretary for Human Services Sharon Knight MP neatly summed up the purpose of elder abuse prevention networks at the launch last month of the Victorian Government’s newest location, the Central Highlands Elder Abuse Prevention Project in Ballarat.
“The aim is to take prevention to where older Victorians meet and to the people who interact with them the most,” Ms Knight said. “We want them to know they will be supported and understood, and that help is at hand.”
The new network is hosted by Ballarat Community Health and is one of 10 across the state being funded by the Victorian Government. Its launch reiterated the touch-points for older people in the community with attendee representatives of many community groups including the Men’s Shed and the U3A, councils, aged care, health services and Victoria Police.
The aim of the network is to stop elder abuse before it happens by increasing understanding of elder abuse and encouraging community members to not tolerate the exploitation of older people.
It is an ethos already supported by Jeanette Lane from the Mornington Peninsula, who inspired the audience at the launch with her observation of elder abuse in her neighbourhood and how this had motivated her to help establish the Peninsula Advisor Committee of Elders (PACE).
Mrs Lane, proudly supported by her husband Graham (both pictured), talked about the ripple effect of local awareness raising: “When we run one program, someone who is a member of another group wants to get in touch for us to make a presentation somewhere else. We have now run programs all over the Peninsula.”
In discussions about the causes and reinforcing factors for elder abuse, participants stressed the importance of older people understanding their rights and service providers – such as accountants and financial advisers – being trained to recognise the warning signs of elder abuse.
At the close of the meeting organisations were asked to show interest in becoming members and participating in the activities of the prevention network. These will include making contact with people in the LGBTI, Aboriginal and CALD communities in the vicinity, and using art and drama to educate the community about elder abuse. At the end of the meeting 25 groups immediately indicated their interest in joining the network.